Quantifying and valuing carbon flows and stores in coastal and shelf ecosystems in the UK

Tiziana Luisetti, R. Kerry Turner, Julian E. Andrews, Timothy D. Jickells, Silke Kröger, Markus Diesing, Lucille Paltriguera, Martin T. Johnson, Eleanor R. Parker, Dorothee C. E. Bakker, Keith Weston

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Evidence shows that habitats with potential to mitigate against greenhouse gases emissions, by taking up and storing CO2, are being lost due to the effects of on-going human activities and climate change. The carbon storage by terrestrial habitats (e.g. tropical forests) and the role of coastal habitats (‘Blue Carbon’) as carbon storage sinks is well recognised.
Offshore shelf sediments are also a manageable carbon store, covering ∼9% of global marine area, but not currently protected by international agreements to enable their conservation. Through a scenario analysis, we explore the economic value of the damage of human activities and climate change can inflict on UK marine habitats, including shelf sea sediments.
In a scenario of increased human and climate pressures over a 25-year period, we estimate damage costs up to US$12.5 billion from carbon release linked to disturbance of coastal and shelf sea sediment carbon stores.
It may be possible to manage socio-economic pressure to maintain sedimentary carbon storage, but the trade-offs with other global social welfare benefits such as food security will have to be taken into account. To develop effective incentive mechanisms to preserve these valuable coastal and marine ecosystems within a sustainability governance framework, robust evidence is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-76
Number of pages10
JournalEcosystem Services
Early online date26 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Blue carbon
  • Carbon storage
  • Ecosystem governance
  • Ecosystem services
  • Mitigation
  • Offshore sediments

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